The British Working Equitation Squad has been celebrating after returning from the Junior Young Rider Europeans Championships in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, clutching a coveted silver medal.
The sport was revolutionised in Britain in 2014, so it was particularly pleasing for the young team to find themselves placed first in the cattle penning phase – handling live cattle on horseback.
Overall, the team was delighted with the individual placings - an impressive 4th, 6th and 9th.
Not bad at all considering the youngest rider Mia Lloyd Simon from West Sussex was just 15.
Working Equitation started in Europe in 1998, with just four countries participating – Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.
The Association for British Working Equitation became responsible for the sport in Britain in 2014 and since then it has quickly become more widely recognised across the country, with competitor numbers growing steadily.
The World governing body (WAWE) was formed in 2004 and now more than 17 countries worldwide are now working under the same rules to develop the sport.
Team GB finished in 5th place at last year’s Senior World Championships in Munich with Holly Barber from Norfolk gaining an individual 6th place.
President of ABWE Georgia Shone said: “Working Equitation is a dynamic and captivating equestrian discipline that is fairly new here in the UK.
“It is the ultimate outcome of the development of the horse as a working animal.
“Horses were originally domesticated for farming and herding purposes, work which required them to respond to their rider whatever the terrain and difficulties they may face.
“The sport is a highly refined and sophisticated demonstration of these skills with the added requirement of elegance and speed of execution.”
Competitions are split into different phases, similar to Eventing.
There is a Dressage phase, Ease of Handling - which judges on style whilst completing obstacles – and, finally, the Speed, which is a course of obstacles performed against the clock.
At International competitions and, occasionally, here in the UK, a 4th phase of cattle penning is added.
Georgia said: “There is an opportunity for everyone to get involved with training clinics and competitions being held around the country.
“These sessions are a great introduction to the sport with an opportunity for new people to Working Equitation to have a go on the obstacles with the assistance of the trainers and also to meet some of the great people who are part of the organisation.
“We are big enough to host national events yet small enough for new people to feel very welcome and part of the movement.”